Faces of Plant With Purpose: Yon Layong

Written by Plant With Purpose on March 13, 2014 in General


Life as a migrant laborer is difficult and isolating, as Yon Layong and his family know. For 15 years, the Layongs moved from place to place as Yon followed seasonal jobs on tangerine orchards. He and his wife struggled to keep their children in school and never stayed put long enough to invest in anything that would provide a hopeful future. When Thailand’s tangerine market shrank, the family decided to take a risk and make a change.

Yon and his neighbors scraped together the funds to collectively purchase a piece of land. On just 2.8 acres, the Tun Kwang Tong community built 45 houses and started backyard gardens. Because their resources are so slim, the community maximizes every bit of land they own by implementing Plant With Purpose training. They’ve learned to improve soil fertility through composting and companion crops; pairing livestock, fish farms, and frog condos with vegetable plots; and other techniques to make the most of small spaces. The diversity of produce that they are able to coax from such a small plot of land is a true testament to the abundance of God’s creation.

During his years as a migrant worker, Yon and his family lived on a sparse diet of mustard leaves, soup and rice. Now they eat different foods at every meal. Yon’s garden contains mustard, onion, garlic, eggplant, beans, a wide variety of local vegetables, frogs, and a pig.  He’s constantly searching for new things to add, and eating well has become a source of pride and dignity for the family. Yon excitedly shares that he often has enough produce left over to share with neighbors.

Through food production from his backyard garden and savings from his Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA), he’s been working hard to ensure his children can stay in school. Yon and his wife believe that education is “a key to a better life.”  His dream is to give his two children every possible opportunity, so they can experience a more stable life than he did. Yon moved to Thailand as a migrant laborer with nothing, and shares his amazement over what he and his community have accomplished together. He’s a face of Plant With Purpose – a story of real transformation and hope.

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